*Ring Ring* -pickup-
“Company G, Frank speaking.”
“Hi Frank, this is Christian from HowToSales- I just wanted to check in to see how you were doing. Is there anything I can do to help out?
“Nope, we’re good.”
“Ok, great. Thanks!”
What a waste of time- for both of us. Low value touches like this are all-too-prevalent among average, quota-missing salespeople. Instead, learn to use sales touches to increase your chances of success by taking a high-value approach.
First, let’s do some definitions. A low value touch is a contact with a customer (either by phone, in person, or through electronic means) that provides little/no value. Things like checking in, reaching out, and touching base are easy examples, but other communications can also be low-value. Is the whitepaper you’re sending relevant to the projects your customer has planned, or are you just hoping it will strike a chord? Did you tell your customer why you’re calling, or just ask for things bluntly?
For a profession of people whose job it is to provide, explain, and deliver value- many of us do this particular skill very poorly.
On the other side of the spectrum is a high-value touch. Things like answering a requested quote email (with a quote, of course), calling a meeting to plan a project timeline, or calling to prep a customer for a potential problem are all obvious examples. More skilled salespeople can do this in situations that other salespeople revert to a low-value touch. Here are a few strategies that can help you do this too:
Think before you speak (or hit send).
Take a moment before each call, email, or meeting and think about what your customer needs. Can you help them get more value out of a product or service? Is there an opportunity to help them avoid a pitfall? Is there an opportunity for you to do anything at all? If the answer is no, why are you wasting your customer’s time (and your productivity)?
If your reason for calling is purely selfish (or purely for your sales manager’s sanity), think of ways you could provide value. The best example I’ve been a part of had to do with forecasting. I needed an order forecast from my customers for two reasons- my manager wanted them, and my manager wanted them yesterday. Rather than calling and saying- “hey, do me a solid, what’s your order plans for the coming year?” I thought about how giving me that information could be valuable to the customer. In this case, the reason to get a forecast was so our order management team could do a better job of keeping lead times low. That information can be presented in a way that makes the conversation a high-value touch:
“Hi Frank, this is Christian from HowToSales. I was going over our project timeline and noticed we could cut the lead times of your next few orders if we had a forecast in place. Even if you don’t have specifics, my operations manager tells me that even general numbers can go a long way on our side. Do you have a few minutes we could talk over say, the next 12 months?”
Taking the time to develop your strategy goes a long way.
Learn when to wait.
Often, I get excited about my job- especially when things are going well. Usually when this happens, something will cross my desk that I want to jump on right away. Learning when to wait and when to pounce can help you in your quest to add value. Ask yourself value questions. Here are a couple examples to get started:
- If you’re hoping to present a new product/service/etc- ask yourself what your customer is working on right now. Are they slammed with work on what they have? Does your call help their situation or add work? Time yourself accordingly.
- When was the last time you brought up a change? Check your CRM notes and discover when your last meaningful conversation was. If it was yesterday, it’s not time for another. Learn not to push too much too fast.
- Especially when your customer is facing a problem, knowing when not to wait is just as important. Even if you don’t have all the answers, you can at least better understand the problem.
Don’t overdo it.
As you get better and better with adding value with every touch you might start to feel confident that you can spin every touch into a high-value touch. Be wary of this. Some touches are simply not worth it, and the level of spinning required will draw attention to itself. A good rule of thumb is- if you’re thinking of how to “spin” something, you probably aren’t adding value. Keep your feet planted firmly in reality and remember the wise words of Han Solo: